Skating trek carries Walla Walla University student across state

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A cross-state longboard trip is indeed as much work as it sounds.

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Not all of the trip was spent aboard, though breaks weren't typically spent too far off the road.

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A coyote gives the hairy eyeball to board-bound travelers.

At the beginning of last summer I read an article about two guys who rode their skateboards from one end of Argentina to the other, carrying everything they needed in backpacks and camping or staying in hostels the whole trip. I was inspired and before I knew what I was doing I was scheming about a trip of my own across Washington, my home state.

I got in touch with Mark Flaiz, a close friend from high school, and we immediately began the most important part of our preparations -- getting excited. We left the other much less vital details, such as a route and our packing list, for the night before we left.

Our adventure began at the Idaho border between Post Falls and Spokane on the Centennial Trail. The trail shadows the river, and soon we came across a father and son, 34 and 12, backflipping off a 36-foot bridge in celebration of the father's birthday and couldn't help but follow them into the water. It was one of our many stops along the way.

Those were the things that kept us going because even that first day we reconsidered whether riding skateboards 350 miles with backpacks on was a good idea. We kept moving and found ourselves west of Spokane by that afternoon.

We spent the night in a field hidden by a scant, two-foot knoll making ourselves as scarce as possible each time the beams of a car's lights skimmed over us. The sleeping arrangements were typical of the next week, as close as possible to the road for two reasons: First, because we were too tired to hike very far away from the road that night and second, we were likely going to be too sore to hike back very far in the morning.

We traveled on Highway 2 the whole way, moving 40 to 50 miles a day and spending between five to eight hours on our skateboards. Our legs burned and our feet blistered.

But fortunately our trip was more than time spent on our skateboards. We swam at Coulee City and ate giant bratwursts at Leavenworth. We got chased by a coyote and saw 18-inch salmon easing their way up the Wenatchee River.

Our adventure concluded in Everett at the Anchor Pub a few blocks away from the water.

We had traveled a hectic 55 miles our last day, hectic because of the 10,000 cars that caused mini-hurricanes each time one passed and because of some bad directions that resulted in us scampering illegally across a wooden footbridge that was closed due to construction.

Too exhausted to find a way around the pier that kept us from that cold, salty water we had dreamt about since Idaho, we sat on our longboards and celebrated in the only way that felt natural, panting. We were dirty, tired and most importantly, we were done.

Alex Vercio is a Walla Walla University student.

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